Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Long Days, Fun Nights and Tough Mornings!

Location: Coeur d'Alene, ID, USA
Leaving Missoula we knew our route back to the ocean but for the first few nights we had no plans on where to stay.  We were just going to rock up in to towns and ask the locals and hoped that they would know some good places to camp.  This was a bit scary because we were definitely in bear country so we'd have to make sure we followed all the rules for camping in the backcountry with bears.  Don't eat where you sleep and hang the food and other smelly stuff up a tree.  We had the know how so we were hoping to try out our skills along the way.  The first stop was a book shop in Alberton to get me a new book. Greg at the Adventure Cycling Association had told us about the shop, it was on the way so thought we should check it out. We found the Montana Valley Book Store so I headed inside to check out the books.  The woman in the store pointed me to the right section and I dove into the massive selection; meanwhile the shop owner went outside to talk to Sophie.  Keren, the shop owner, had cycled around the UK and Europe and had visited the Netherlands where her father had been shot down during the war and captured by the Germans.  She then met the man that was part of the Resistance who had tried to find him but had only found his Mae West life jacket.  Keren then went on to give me the book I was looking at and some food for the road.

We carried on bouncing between the Interstate and frontage roads heading North West towards Idaho.  At one point we ended up in the forest up a dirt track and after not much climbing I started to feel really faint.  I ended up needing to get off the bike and lie down in the dirt for a few minutes to sort myself out.  At this point we decided we should find a place to camp.  We looked around for a wild campsite but the trees were really thick and there were loads of beer cans and we were nervous about bears so we headed on down to St. Regis to ask if they knew a better place to camp.  Our first port of call was the visitor's centre but it was already closed for the night.  We next headed to the gas station and they told us about a free campground in the forest.  When asked about the bear they replied with "Yeh there are bears, best to take a gun."  Without a gun, but with our bear spray we headed into the forest to find a place to sleep.  The campground was deserted so we picked a place to camp and went to a separate area to cook and eat.  We found a place to hang all the potential bear bait and were set for the night.  As twilight was setting in we decided to make one last trip to the restroom.  On getting out of the tent, without my glasses, I looked up to see a big black shape with, what looked like, a lighter muzzle.  Without bear spray, whistle or glasses I calmly asked Sophie for my glasses.  As the fuzziness cleared I was staring straight at a log.  After a laugh and a giggle about the scary, bear shaped log we got ready for bed.

In the morning we were aiming to get on to the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes; it's a 72 mile old railway line that is completely paved.  We hoped to hop on that, follow it until we got tired and camp by the side of it.  We found one end of the trail in Mullan and had a look at the information boards about the trail.  Unfortunately, we found that although the rail trail was open for public use we were not allowed off the track because all along it was private land.  There were campsites a little off the route but the only one that was on it was at Harrison.  Harrison was pretty far so we decided to just head off and see what would happen.  After a good morning we decided to push on to Harrison.  We loaded up on supplies, found out the General Election results and headed off down to Harrison.  The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes was an absolutely amazing  experience.  The scenery was amazing, we saw our first moose and the trail was in great condition for riding.  With all this and the wind at our backs we had a fantastic ride down to Harrison.  After setting up the tent and cooking some food we decided to head to the local bar, The Gateway Grill, for a drink to celebrate.  It'd been a great day so we felt like we deserved it; it is only one drink what is the worst that could happen.

Curled up in the fetal position with my head out the tent vomiting on the floor, I started to wonder where it all went wrong.  I remember going into the bar and ordering a drink.  We were introduced to the owner, Rex and the bar lady, Darcy.  Rex had just bought the bar and this was the start of the season, he was in high spirits and bought the bar a round of shots.  I don't think it was the first shot that was the downfall but it was the other free beers and shots that was the trouble.  We met some of the locals and had country dance lessons.  I think there was some tap dancing involved but then things go fuzzy.  All I know is that we had a great time in the bar with Rex, Darcy and the locals but the next day it hurt.  I struggled all morning but we only had a short trip to Coeur d'Alene so we set off just after lunch on a beautiful day to follow the lake up to the city.

After riding for 15 miles Sophie and I needed to sleep for two hours.  When we woke up on the benches next to the lake Sophie was feeling better but I was worse.  There was no way I would be able to make it the next 30 miles to the city.  With no other options we phoned the Warm Showers host we had planned on staying with to apologise and Sophie explained the situation.  Rachel said no problems, do we want her to come and get us?  Yes please, that would be AMAZING!!!! After getting to the rendezvous I collapsed in a heap and waited for our savior to arrive. When Rachel turned up we loaded up the truck and I focused on breathing while Sophie and Rachel chatted back to the house.  When we arrived I needed to crash for a while and disappeared into the spare room to sleep it off.  When I awoke Donnie, Rachel's boyfriend, had arrived home and I was feeling much better.

Donnie and Rachel were amazing in so many ways.  They had rented bikes for a day, had enjoyed riding around so decided to buy bikes and do the Pacific Coast Bike Route from Canada to Mexico. We couldn't believe it.  We had spent years researching and planning and they had just bought bikes and went.  Donnie then decided to do a triathlon so went and got himself swimming lessons.  The guy couldn't swim and thought he'd do a triathlon - awesome!! Donnie was now training to do a 50 miles Ultra Marathon.  These guys were brilliant!  Sophie and I had a really good evening with them and then they invited us to stay another day.  Not feeling 100% we decided to have a rest day and check out the city.

Coeur d'Alene is an amazing city.  It has a cool downtown and is right by the lake side.  When we were there the sun was blazing and the lake was buzzing with people.  We had wraps and watched the world go by along the lake front.  It was an unscheduled stop in our journey but I am so glad we met Rex and Darcy in the bar and because of that we got to spend more time with Rachel and Donnie, and check out the city and the lake.  It's fun how things work out.


  1. The stories get better by the mile...and still no sighting of yogi, Mr P

    1. No, so far no bear encounters, which is nice. Glad you enjoyed this post

  2. Well you know what causes hangovers so I have no sympathy! Still you have done very well indeed.xx mummy

    1. We figured out that Sophie's drink (Illusive Traveler) was 4.4% whereas mine (Irish Death, a clue is in the name) was 7.8%. And it is really hard saying no to a person that is buying you drinks.